Monday, January 21, 2013

Thinking of starting a running program? Here are some things I learned!

So, recently I began a running program again and ever since I feel absolutely fantastic! Although running is not for everyone, if you have healthy joints, a healthy back and a pair of good quality shoes, running just may be the perfect way for you to get in shape.

I know what you might be thinking - "Me? Run? Ha! You have to be joking!" That's exactly what I thought at first, too. Running seemed like a workout for people in incredible shape with a lot of willpower and I just didn't feel like I fit that mould. But the reality is, if you start off slow enough with a well-paced program, almost anyone can become a skilled runner.

The program I used my first time around was called Couch to 5K. You can find it here:

What makes this program unique is the fact that it is designed for people who have never run a day in their life. Over the course of nine weeks, you will run longer and longer until, at the end, you will be able to run 5k in 30 minutes. Sound impossible? It's definitely not. If you follow the program I can almost guarantee you that you will succeed. And nothing makes me feel better than finishing a run, something you will hear a lot of runners say. The rush of adrenaline you will feel will be incomparable, especially after you've completed the program and can run a 5k.

The program asks that you run three times a week. It starts off very slow, asking you only to alternate 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for a total of twenty minutes, after a five minute brisk walk. Every week, the amount you run will get longer in very small incriments. This is much, much easier on your joints than just going out on the street and seeing how long you can run before you feel like you're going to die. It also makes the training a lot easier, which will help you stick to it. Rest assured, though - 60 seconds may not seem like a long time, but if you've never run before, you will be winded. But keep it up! The second workout of every week will be easier, and by the third workout you'll be realizing you can do this.

I just have a few tips for you before you start your running program. I'm no expert, but these are some things that really helped me when I was just starting out:

- make sure you have good quality running shoes (not walking shoes, not any other kind of shoes. RUNNING shoes) that fit you well. It may seem easy to skimp out and just use your regular shoes, but doing this is terrible for your joints and your back, and you will feel the pain later on. You don't have to spend a fortune, but make sure the shoe is good quality. It might be a good idea to go to a store like SportCheck or the like, and ask them to size your foot. They can also give you advice as to what brands are the best for what you intend to do.

- ladies, invest in a sports bra. Maybe two, or three sports bras. You will thank yourself later.

- don't skip ahead in the program until a little later on. Remember, this program was designed to make the process as easy as possible on your joints, so skipping ahead may cause you to really hurt yourself. When you are nearing the end of the program your muscles will be better equipped to handle the pressure, and you can go to it if you like.

- if you don't feel ready to start the next week, just repeat the same week, it's no big deal. You can take your time, as any running is good exercise and will improve your stamina and heart health. And if you are ever feeling faint or sick while running, stop and walk briskly instead. No exercise program is worth hurting yourself over.

- likewise, if you hurt your ankle or back, WAIT UNTIL YOU FEEL BETTER TO START RUNNING AGAIN. This is sometimes very difficult to do, as you will really want to continue running. But if you start again before you are healed, you run the risk of never being able to run again, so it is ALWAYS worth it to wait. Be good to your body!

-make sure to drink lots of water while running. You will be sweating buckets and you want to replenish that.

-develop a good stretching routine for before and after your run. You may be tempted to skip the stretch, but preparing your muscles for the run and relaxing them afterward is very important. It will help prevent injuries and even improve academic performance. For a great stretch routine that I use you can go here:

- try and run before a meal. Then, when you do eat, pack in food that's full of protein and lots of vitamins and minerals. Make sure what you eat is as healthy and clean as possible, but that it's a FULL meal. Running burns a lot of calories and it also increases your metabolism and you want to make sure you are getting the proper nutrition. I drink a hemp protein shake after my run along with a healthy meal full of spinach, black beans, broccoli, etc. Healthy, nutrient-packed foods. And the protein will help repair your muscles and prepare you for your next run.

Go to it! If you follow the program, you CAN do this! Once you realize your body's potential there will be no stopping you, and you'll have developed a workout routine you can do anytime, anywhere for free!

Happy running!

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